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Island runner ‘thankful’ she can keep racing with family
As a longtime runner who, once upon a time, was a familiar sight running around the Island, Esther Lott found a way to combine her passion for running and for family.
In the summer of 2008, Lott, along with her daughter, Susan Solomon, and grandchildren, Bryan and Celina — all Island residents — took part in the Swedish SummeRun, held in July in downtown Seattle. The race benefits the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research, a cause close to Lott and the Solomon families as Susan grew up with Marsha and Saul Rivkin’s daughters, another longtime Island family.
“It’s all just intertwined,” said Lott of the family’s connection to the Rivkins and the local race.
During the 2008 race, each participating member of the Lott-Solomon family finished second in their age division, with Lott, then 76, losing the first-place spot by just three seconds.
This year, Lott, Susan Solomon and Celina Solomon all entered again, missing only Bryan from the group, as he was in Israel taking part in an overseas educational experience. This time, Lott got to bring home her blue ribbon medal, finishing in first place in the over-60 division, and Celina Solomon once again earned second.
Lott, who has lived on the Island with her husband since 1962, first got started with running some 30 years ago, long before the phrase ‘aerobic exercise’ was popular or even known. As a member of the Jewish Community Center (JCC), Lott had been taking exercise classes, specifically water aerobics, when her teachers announced one day that, according to her cardiologist boyfriend, the best thing they could do for their hearts was aerobics to increase their heart rates.
“Back then, we really had no clue what that was. Not like today,” said Lott. So the teacher made the class run around the gym.
“She kept saying, ‘You have to keep doing it,’ and eventually I made it around the block because she kept insisting and finally I got hooked on it,” she said.
Lott, who at the time lived near Island Crest Way, would run up and down the main road and was often greeted by her neighbors and other Island residents with honks and waves.
“That part was fun,” she said. Not only was she getting out and seeing more of the Island on her daily trips, but she started to feel better as well.
“It felt good, and I enjoyed it,” said Lott of those first forays into the running world. Soon she, along with the rest of the world, began to learn that such activity was a great way to stay in shape. “Then we all started to hear more and more how good it is for you.”
But, unfortunately for Lott, who first started running at the age of 47 and entered her first race at 50, giving up those daily runs up and down Island Crest Way was tough. In her first race, an event during the annual Seafair celebration, Lott freely admitted she had no idea what she was doing, but somehow still managed to finish second in her division.
“I really hated to give it up,” she said of those daily runs. On the advice of her doctor, who told her that after age 65, pounding the pavement everyday is tough on the body’s joints, she moved to the high school track, which is softer and easier on her body. When the weather cools and the rain picks up, Lott said she heads indoors to the track at the JCC, which keeps her out of the elements.
Lott, who is down to running, or more like jogging as she calls it, just three times a week these days, once put in five or six miles, six times a week.
“I used to enter races, but I do it more for myself,” she said. At the age of 70, Lott entered her longest race, a half marathon, 13.1 miles, in Palm Springs, Calif., where she took first place in her division.
When the idea for participating in the Swedish SummeRun came up, she said she was surprised that her granddaughter, Celina, wanted to run with her. Celina, according to Lott, is a longtime soccer player who currently plays for the high school girls team, and Lott’s grandson, who goes to Lakeside High School, is a member of the school’s cross country team. Their mother also decided to join.
“Susan said she wanted to do it and that she just wanted to run with her mom,” said Lott, smiling. “I love the fact that the three of us can do it. I hope we can keep it up.”
One thing that Lott said she quickly learned, by attending classes and lectures on running, was how important the right shoes were to her efforts.
“Shoes are so important,” she said. “You don’t want to lose support, so I get a new pair every three months.”
Lott said one of the best parts about her running around the Island has been meeting and getting to know local residents.
“I’ve met a lot of people who are so wonderful and just very pleasant,” she said. “I just keep thanking God that I can keep doing it.”